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Children fashionistas, by Michelle Schwartzbauer

Children fashionistas, by Michelle Schwartzbauer

As a jeune fille au pair, I am asked to help in many ways around the home; picking up toys, helping prepare dinner, and ironing the children’s and baby’s clothes. Yes, I iron the children’s and baby’s clothes, every week, after they have been laundered. After working with children in a variety of settings, (schools, homes, summer camps), I have noticed that a child’s clothes are more than just something to cover the body. Children use their clothes also as a toy, napkin, towel, coloring book, and fort construction piece. Therefore, it is extremely hard for me to understand why any parent would bother with ironing their children’s play clothes and their baby’s onesies. Then again this is not America, this is France.

The French have always and will always take pride in how they dress. Why shouldn’t they take pride in how their children dress as well? It’s safe to say that, French parents would never put an item of clothing on their child that they would not wear themselves. Furthermore, comfort is important to French parents, but in all truth, it’s really about the fashion. Many children’s clothing follows the same menswear and womenswear fashions we see each year.

In France, uniforms are only for private schools. This allows French parents to dress their children in the upmost trends. For example, my little au pair girl has more clothes than I do, combining both my closets in France and America. Her shoe collection is amazing, with at least three different types of black ballerinas. Each day, the mother chooses outfits with layers, combinations of clothes that even inspire my own outfit for the day. Intrigued by how much my family is spending on clothes, I peeked at a price tag of a brand new children’s coat: it was half my monthly salary!

Many international controversies have come from the children’s fashion industry in France. One is the trend of children’s “loungerie.” This is not lingerie, but to many critics, it is just as provocative! One French designer, jours après lunes, creates loungerie for babies to young girls. Most of the collection is frilly girls’ tanks and underwear, though some of the matching “soutien-gorge” and “culottes” could be mistaken for women’s wear.

If children’s loungerie does not bother you, consider a semi recent outrage over a young French child modeling as an adult for Vogue Paris. The young Thylane Loubry-Blondeau modeled in some provocative positions for a 10-year-old girl. However, this photo shoot only seemed to outrage non-French readers and critics. As many French believe, if children are already dressing as mini adults, then children modeling shouldn’t be any different.

Perfume is also a booming market in the French fashion world; therefore why not branch out into children’s perfumes? The French have done just that. Perfumes for babies and children are getting more and more popular. My family chooses not to follow this trend, but I’m sure many of their classmates’ parents have taken interest. Many of the top brands producing these baby perfumes are big names such as Bonpoint, Burberry and Givenchy. In addition to perfume, I have heard skin and make-up routines begin at a young age for girls. The youngest I have seen a child wearing makeup is 12 years old, yet I am not living in Paris where this is probably a more common trend.

Now to give you a taste of the labels in my au pair children’s closets:

Bibaloo http://www.bibaloo.com/

Burberry http://fr.burberry.com/store/childrenswear/

French Blossom http://www.frenchblossom.fr/

Jacadi Paris http://www.jacadi.fr/

Petit Bateau http://www.petit-bateau.fr/

Repetto http://www.repetto.fr/

And that’s only the tip of the fashion iceberg.

A Woman’s Paris’ children’s fashions

Jours Après Lunes http://www.jours-apres-lunes.com/jeune-fille.html

Thylane Loubry Blondeau: French child model, New York Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/thylane-loubry-blondeau-photos-10-year-old-model-sultry-vogue-spread-sparks-controversy-article-1.944000

Top 10 Baby Perfumes & Fragrances for Children, ChildMode http://www.childmode.com/2010/06/01/top-10-baby-perfumes-and-fragrances-for-children/

Alyssa Glawe is a jeune fille au pair in France and has been an English assistant teacher, working for the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). Her teaching placement was in Grenoble, France where she worked at two primary schools, teaching French children from the ages of 6 to 11. She received her B.A. in Communications/Journalism and French Language, but it was when she interned at the Alliance Française de Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she fell in love with French culture and language.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Beauty Confessions from a Globe-trotting Parisienne. Parisienne Bénédicte Mahé shares a French woman’s approach to beauty and makeup; and how the relationship Americans have with beauty is very different from that of the French. Including her list of Beauty Resources in Paris and a vocabulary of French to English translations. (French)

The Child Madeline, by writer and educator Natalie Ehalt who shares her love of Madeline and brings a deserved respect for girls and children worldwide. Including excerpts from Mad About Madeline: The Complete Tales, by Ludwig Bemelmans.

Haute-Couture Barbie: A French story, by French writer Laurence Haxiare who remembers the “Barbie train” that stopped in every big French city in the 1980s. She tells of the Barbie Train in France and the exhibition, “Le nouveau theater de la mode” (New Theater of Fashion), created by expert collector and multi-talented artist, BillyBoy. * Christophe de Menil, Emanuel Ungaro, and Yves Saint Laurent were the first to dress Barbie. Including book recommendations for Barbie in haute-couture clothing and the complete biography of BillyBoy* & Lala.

Colette: Gigi meets Anne of Green Gables, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who contemplates French novels and their heroines, and wonders if French fiction may well be the important key to the mystery of what makes Frenchwomen the way they are. Including a recommendation of books by Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Colette. 

Des Cuisses de Grenouille: Frogs’ legs, by Alyssa Glawe who brings to us another life-changing culinary experince from from France. During her first extended stay in Grenoble, France, it was escargot (snails). This past year she mustered enough courage to try des cuisses de grenouille in Paris. Recipe incuded for Sautéed Frogs’ legs: Cuisses de Crenouille à la Provençale courtesy of Saveur.com.

Foie Gras: “Fatty Liver” — its name can be deceiving, by Alyssa Glawe, an expatriate living in Grenoble, France.  Alyssa writes about her ‘delightful culinary adventure,’ trying foie gras for the first time at a friend’s holiday party. Foie gras, yet another “French Foods to Try” on her list, follows Alyssa’s previous stories about escargot (snails) and des cuisses de grenouille (frogs legs). Recipe included for Terrine of Foie Gras from restaurant Chez le Pèr’Gras, Grenoble, France.

Escargot. Don’t judge a snail by its shell, by Alyssa Glawe who shares this first time, life-changing culinary experience at Paris’ oldest restaurant, La Petite Chaise, where she was overwhelmed by the taste of butter, garlic, and herbs. Recipe included for Escargot with Garlic Butter, courtesy of LifestyleFood.com.

Text copyright ©2013 Alyssa Glawe. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Michelle Schwartzbauer. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.
barbara@awomansparis.com

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